Park Bikes Training Camp Day Two: Kangaroo Valley

IMG_0664Day two and there were plenty of tired bodies at the breakfast table. Start was delayed somewhat by heavy fog, so extra calories were taken on board and even more coffee put away. Meanwhile down in the bike room, the support crew were doing a sterling job on the maintenance side, making sure everyone’s gears were running smoothly, checking over tyres for leaks and swapping out a couple of cassettes for riders who’d overgeared a little. I really can’t speak highly enough of the support squad and the great job they did.

Soon the fog cleared and the bunch rolled out into Bowral town centre and off towards Fitzroy Falls. The terrain was rolling and soon we’d broken into two bunches, with me in the back group. Cresting a hill I saw the support car ahead with the front group and decided to bridge the gap and wake up my tired legs, which I’ll admit were feeling less than stellar.

Regrouping at Fitzroy Falls, we were treated to a clinic on descending technique, since the meat of the day was coming up – Barrengarry descent and the climb back out of the valley, on slightly damp roads.

My cornering confidence has been a little low since spilling at Olympic Park and cracking my rib, so my preparation was pretty much all mental. Remember the fundamentals – brake in a straight line and in plenty of time. Look through the corner. Weight on the outside foot and the inside hand, balanced through the centre of the bike. Don’t target fixate on the hazards. Relax.

Nash Kent captured this excellent video of the descent, which gives a great view of just how winding and steep the road is. This was followed up with a coffee break in Kangaroo Valley itself. There were mutterings of a little hill training before heading back up but it seemed like the bunch wanted to get on with the main climb of the day, the 6.5km Barrengarry Mountain, right back the way we came.


As with the previous day, my chosen method was to start out easy and push the intensity gradually through the climb. I’m carrying a few extra kilos since my crash a few months back – having been off the bike and on the sofa for some considerable time – and I could definitely feel it at the foot of the climb, but by around halfway I’d pulled back some of the riders ahead of me and was largely on my own. By about 4km in, I’d actually zoned out a little and let my attention drift, when clubmate Shane Deering loomed into view from behind.

Photo: Noelene WooI woke up a little, realised I’d let my pace slacken, and gave it a bit of a kick.

And so I spent the last 2km or so basically doing intervals – a big kick at above 500W, followed by a short recovery below 200W, then back to 500W again and I was over the top.

At this point, it’s worth mentioning that my favourite purchase of late has indeed been a power meter. There’s much talk of power meters making racing boring, with accusations of teams riding to the numbers and sucking the excitement out of big races, but for a recreational rider, what a power meter allows you to do is intelligently dose out your efforts, to ride more efficiently and therefore ride longer, faster. Recommended.

Over the top of the climb and I came across a small group who’d opted to wait for the tail-enders and ride it in together. Rain was threatening, so I grabbed my jacket from the support car and pacelined it in with the group.

134329_603897896403430_3864006418249353053_oBack at Fitzroy falls the mood was high and the team announced a little challenge. An informal handicap race to the next waypoint. We’d set off in small groups at pre-set intervals, and try to catch the group in front. First complete team over the line would take the win. ‘Coach’ Colantonio, for his sins, got a team of his very own – which would prove decisive later on.

Group One was away, followed by Group Two, then my group was out of the gates. I drove it hard for the first section, swapped off, then ended up right back on the front at the next turn. We were maybe halfway when it looked like we were losing a rider off the back as well as picking up a straggler from Group Two, so I dropped back to give Renee a tow back to the group, at which point Coach came belting past at full steam, hollering as he went. It was all coming together and the red mist was well and truly on as I put my head down and went for the big effort. But there wasn’t enough road to get the job done. The handicapping looked to have been spot on, as everyone was within sight at the end, and after the commissaires convened it was declared that Anthony ‘Coach’ Colantonio was the winner of the first annual Park Bikes Potato Farm Handicap – aka ‘The Spuddy’ – thanks to a huge solo effort (and some disarray in the teams ahead).

All that remained was the roll back to Bowral in deteriorating conditions and the sprint for beer, then off to get cleaned up for a few drinks, dinner and presentations.

There was great food, plenty of wine and conversation, awards given out, toast and applause given and  a musette full of local potatoes for the winner of ‘The Spuddy’. Attention turned to the last day and not a single rider opted for the short version home on Sunday. Everyone was in for the full ride, including Razorback.


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  1. Pingback: Park Bikes Training Camp Day Three: Bowral to Sydney | The Crankset

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